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Creation/evolution passages in the Bible

References to creation beyond Genesis.
Possible biblical references to evolution

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Creation references in the Bible outside of the Book of Genesis:

bullet Exodus 20:11: This verse also refers to creation; it is described as taking six days.
 
bullet Exodus 31:17: God made the heavens and earth in six days.
 
bullet Job 38:4 to 38:7: The creation of the earth is described as occurring on a single morning "when the morning stars sang together."
 
bulletCreation battle: Many ancient eastern Mediterranean religions believed that the creation of the world was the end result of a momentous battle between a deity (typically a storm god) with chaos (typically symbolized by water). Some biblical scholars believe that traces of this belief can be seen in Psalms 74:12-17 and Psalms 89:9-13. Elements of this, with the violence removed, may also be seen in Genesis 1:1 to 2:3.
 
bullet Psalms 19:4: This describes how God placed a tabernacle (tent) in the heavens for the sun. Presumably, this is where the sun was believed to rest during the hours of night. (The writers of the Bible assumed that the earth was flat, enclosed by a rigid dome a few thousand feet upwards from the surface of the earth. The sun and stars were believed to have been pushed across the underside surface of heaven by angels).
 
bullet Psalms 104:2 to 104:3: This tells how God stretched out the heavens like a curtain and laid the beams of his chambers in the waters (seas).
 
bullet Psalms 104:5: This discusses how God laid the earth firmly on its foundations so that it could not be moved. Biblical writers believed that the earth was fixed and unmovable. The stars, planets, moon and sun moved across the underside of the rigid dome, above which was heaven. Some early scientists were executed by the Church because they taught that the earth moved around the sun, in apparent conflict with this biblical passage.
 
bulletProverbs 8:22 to 8:32 This describes how God first created Wisdom. Wisdom is personified as a delightful female companion of God who existed before the earth was created. She describes being present during creation, which took an indeterminate time.

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A possible reference in the Bible to evolution of the species in Genesis:

The first creation story runs from Genesis 1:1 to 2:3. According to the King James Version of the Bible, God is not described as creating sea and land species individually as separate acts of creation. Rather, he assigns separate tasks to the sea and to the earth:

  • Genesis 1: 20: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven."

  • Genesis 1:24: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so."

These verses may be interpreted as implying that God did not create each species, one at a time. Instead, the full diversity of life in the sea and on the earth evolved, following the laws of nature and natural processes that were created by God. Over time, all of the species were produced within the seas, lakes, and rivers and land areas of the world. 5

The second creation story runs from Genesis 2:4 to 2:25. It contains:

  • Genesis 2:7: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul."

This seems to describe an act of special creation in which God sculpted a model of a man out of mud. He then converted the model into a living human person by physically breathing "the breath of life" into its nostrils. This passage has convinced some people that human life does not become a human person at conception, or when the embryo's heart first starts beating, or when the fetus first looks human, or even when the fetus first becomes sentient -- when its higher brain functions first turn on and it becomes conscious and aware of its environment. Rather, it happens at the time of its first breath.

Over time, various beliefs concerning the origin of the species and of human beings have developed:

  • Many conservative Protestants have concluded from their assessment of the Bible that God created each animal "kind" as a separate act of creation. Two or seven animals from each "kind" were saved from the worldwide flood in Noah's Ark. Later, in a process called microevolution, these "kinds" evolved into individuals species. So, a horse kind might have evolved into horses, donkeys, zebras, etc. A beetle kind evolved into the almost a half million species of beetles found today.

  • Many liberal Protestants, secularists, humanists, etc. have concluded that all of today's species and all of the species that once existed and became extinct, evolved from a single, one-celled life form primarily or excursively via the process of natural selection. Further, any two species have a common ancestor. Humans did not evolve from apes, but chimpanzees and humans do have a common ancestor. So do humans and turnips, dinosaurs and trilobites, dogs and mold, etc.

  • The Roman Catholic Church took almost a century to come to terms with Charles Darwin's concept of evolution via natural selection, and now unofficially supports theistic (God-guided) evolution. Catholic scholars have rejected Intelligent Design as a viable concept. However, the Church teaches that the human soul is a special creation by God for each human being.

  • Most Jewish tradition accept theistic evolution as valid -- the concept that God guided the development of new species over time. Most do not accept Intelligent Design as valid science.

  • The Ahmadiyya Muslim Movement appears to be the only tradition within Islam that formally accepts theistic evolution. Other traditions generally teach varieties of creationism.

A possible reference in the Bible to evolution of the species in Ecclesiastes:

One visitor to this website suggested that the book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) contains "a pretty good statement of evolutionary theory" -- at least it is as written in the language that would be understandable to ancient Hebrews who lived in a pre-scientific culture.

The visitor's interpretation seems to most closely match the beliefs of theistic evolution, in which God takes an active role in guiding evolution:

bulletVerse 1: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Each species evolved from earlier life forms and lived for a season. Most then became extinct.
 
bulletVerse 11: "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." God guided the natural forces of nature to guide the evolution of each new species in their time. But nobody can determine the precise sequence of the evolution of species because there remain many gaps in the fossil record.
 
bulletVerse 14: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." As God guided evolution and each new species appeared, the influence of that life form influenced subsequent species. God was in full charge of the process.
 
bulletVerse 15: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." Present species evolved from past life forms. Future species will evolve from present life forms.
 
bulletVerse 18: "I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts." Present-day humans evolved from earlier species of mammals.
 
bulletVerse 19 - 21: "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?" " We all share the same fate as the other mammals from whom we evolved; we all return to dust.
 
bulletVerse 22: "Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?" Humans alive today will not see the new species that will evolve from homo sapiens.

Other visitors suggest that there is no evidence of evolution of the species here. They suggest that the passage seems totally grounded in the cycles of life shared by humans and other animals.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Gary Locklair, "Doctrine of Creation," 2004-JAN, at: http://www.cs.cuw.edu/
  2. David Beck, "The Bible: A true and accurate account of creation? Summary," Coalition for Excellence in Science and Math Education, 1998-APR-13, at: http://www.cesame-nm.org/
  3. Tom Harpur, "Creationist arguments are damaging to Christianity," The Toronto Star, 2005-FEB-19, Page L11.
  4. H.C. Kee, et al, "The Cambridge Companion to the Bible", Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, (1997), Page 45 to 46.
  5. Michael Hawley, "Searching for truth with a broken flashlight," Chapter 7, Misconception 8, Aventine Press, (2010). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store

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Copyright © 1996 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2011-FEB-10
Author: B.A. Robinson

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